Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Spending a Summer in the springs

Shortly before leaving for Paris, Justin received news that he had been offered a summer internship in Colorado Springs.  It was one that he was happy to accept, despite the fact that it started just a couple of weeks after the Paris trip.  We had arrived home late Friday night from France, and left again Sunday afternoon to drive to Orem to do make-up drills with the company.  Justin stayed there for an additional week, participating in a military exercise.  Vivian and I returned to Logan to pack the house for the move to a little apartment we'd successfully secured, sight unseen, on extremely short notice, (and we are grateful to have it.)

After a short deliberation I announced to Justin that I felt no need to make a big production of this move.  We're double renting right now, so he agreed to my proposal to bring only an air mattress, a card table, and some camping chairs to serve as our summer furnishings.  This was a decision that we do not regret.

Justin arrived home the day before the move and loaded both cars with our stuff.  We left the next day for Laramie, Wyoming.  I was still very sick, so we thought it best to make it a two-day trip.  Laramie turned out to be about as great as I've always envisioned it being, and I can't say that I wished that we had time to linger.  Then again, perhaps I'm being unfairly harsh since I spent a large portion of the night there throwing up.  The drive the next morning into Colorado Springs was similarly miserable.  Once inside our new apartment, I found the air mattress, but not the pump, but was too sick to care.  I laid down on the uninflated bed while Justin lugged everything in by himself.

Two days later it was Memorial Day and I rallied a little bit to try and get out and explore our new surroundings.  We drove out to Manitou Springs and spent just enough time there to be somewhat unimpressed, and finished the day with a short hike to Helen Hunt Falls, a waterfall that was weirdly more impressive from below than above, but it was great to just be outside again, and Colorado Springs is beautiful!
At a park that we stopped at in Manitou Springs

Justin and Vivian playing hide-and-go-seek in the park

Vivian Prepping for the hike to Helen Hunt Falls

The above view of the falls

At the bottom of the falls
A week after that Vivian and I made another trip to Utah and back for drill, which produced a series of complaints from me about why I can't just be allowed to be home while I am sick and miserable during this pregnancy.  My wish was finally granted, but Justin's enthusiasm for being out and about each free Saturday is contagious.  Our first big outing was supposed to be to Twin Lakes, but I got horribly sick and talked Justin into cutting the trip short and visiting Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument instead.
Petrified Redwood stumps make up most of what there is to see there.

Vivian thought the dirt was the best part.
The following Saturday the morning sickness was finally beginning to subside and we made another more successful go at Twin Lakes.  First, however, we decided to visit the National Mining Museum in Leadville.  To my own irritation I determined that it probably wasn't going to be all that interesting, and I left our camera in the car..  It was such a mistake!  The museum is full of rock and mineral samples that Vivian bored of quickly once she realized that she wouldn't be touching anything behind glass.  There were also a series of life-size mine shafts from different types of mines.  These actually freaked her out a little, but Justin and I were fascinated and impressed.  Then there was a home where you walk through and it shows how many different items contain minerals.  We didn't even make it to the top floor because our time was running short.  If you ever find yourself in Leadville, Colorado though...

We returned to Twin Lakes and went on a short little hike that ran along the shoreline.  It was very easy, and beautiful.

Predictably, Vivian's favorite part was the dirt.

Our pictures really can't quite capture it.
I guess that I overdid it a little though, since our excursion ended that night with me, once again, throwing up, this time in the apartment parking lot.  At least it was at the end of the trip, and the trip was definitely still worth it.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Goodales Take Paris: Arc de Triomphe to Salt Lake City

The next day was mine, Justin's, Vivian's, and Christopher's last day of vacation.  We again rode the train into Paris, and immediately started the morning off with a visit to the Arc de Triomphe.  Did you know that you can go up a staircase inside it to the platform on top?  Neither did we, but you can!  We had just cleared the security check line when a woman pulled me, holding Vivian, and Grandma off to the side.  She ignored Grandma's protests about separating us from the group, ushered us into a tiny elevator, and gave us garbled instructions to a short little staircase in broken English.  The rest of the group joined us up top some time later, looking sweaty and brutalized, with tales of a crazy never-ending spiral staircase.  
The traffic around the arch is crazy, it's just one big traffic jam.  There are no lane designations.

From on top, with the Eiffel Tower in the background

Sacre Coeur, the cathedral on top of the hill.  We visited that later in the day.

From the top of the staircase

Back down on the ground again.
For the trip back down I pawned Vivian off on Brooke to take down in the elevator, so that I could check out that staircase in person.  They weren't kidding.  It's not a staircase for the undetermined.  

Next we were going to walk straight down the Champs d'Elysses to the Louvre.  Only, that's three miles, and not everyone was wishing to walk that distance, particularly after the staircase of death.   For me and mine though, above ground versus an underground metro will always win.  So some of us walked, some of us rode the metro, and some of us walked and shopped, and eventually we all regrouped in front of the Louvre.  

We decided to first get lunch, and the quickest option appeared to be one of those dreadful McDonald's with the touchscreen ordering system.  In the interest of time we went that route.  We then headed back to the Louvre for what I can only describe as a drive-by look at some of the most famous and amazing art in the world.  We hit some highlights like the Venus de Milo in a room full of statues that were, in my opinion, more beautiful, and the Mona Lisa at the end of a hallway filled with paintings more captivating.  All the same, the size of the museum is astounding, and thankfully there is a lot of seating to take a break, which is where a napping Vivian and I eventually found ourselves.  

Inside the Louvre, there's just no good way to see everything, or even most of it.

The Mona Lisa
Our visit to the Louvre was short and we next set off to find a chocolate mousse bar a shortish walk away.  The mousse was delicious, but the shop wasn't at all what we had hoped.  It was small, with no seating.  On the bright side that kept us moving as we got caught in another downpour on our way to the metro that was to deposit us near a tram that goes to the church Sacre Couer on a hill overlooking Paris. 

We arrived in the neighborhood, and Justin and I left the group standing there trying to sort out directions while Vivian at long last got to ride a French carousel (they're everywhere in Paris, we only got a video though, no still pictures).  When we rejoined them it seemed like a plan had been formulated, and we struck off in search of the tram.  We rounded a corner expectantly, only to find a huge, steep staircase.  Some of us raced to the top to be greeted by yet another set of stairs, while others of us slowly ascended each flight, one step at a time.  However, nobody looked less thrilled than Grandma at the top of the second set when we turned a corner and found ourselves 3/4ths the way up a staircase that ran parallel to the tram.  Grandma said nothing, just flashed her daughter a look that said "why are you doing this to me?" and continued up the stairs with the rest of us following her lead.

The church itself was much younger than the others, still beautiful, but the architecture was quite different.
Sacre Couer

Mass was just about to start.

Vivian and I hanging out in front waiting for everyone to get ready to go.  She was trying to sit just like me.
We took the tram back down the hillside, and then caught the metro to another part of town where we walked for a mile or so to fulfill a family tradition of eating in a Hardrock Cafe.

The people seated around our two tables that night looked exhausted.  Happy, but exhausted.  Presumably other people stayed awake for the trip back to the farmhouse, but Vivian and I slept most of the train ride, and a good portion of the car ride too.

The next morning Christopher, Justin, Vivian, and I got dropped off at the airport to begin our travels back to Salt Lake.  The rest of the family spent their last day at Disneyland Paris.  Our flight to Charlotte, North Carolina was half empty, and because my husband loves me, he stayed up with Vivian the entire flight, while I slept on empty seats.  Christopher had to get to drill the next morning in Boise, so he did the same.  In Charlotte we went straight to the USO where we were welcomed into a room equipped with huge comfy leather lazy boys, and enough free food to keep us there for the entirety of our 8 hour layover.  Christopher had to devote part of his time digging through all of his luggage (we were forbidden to bring anything but carry-on luggage, another Goodale family tradition) looking for his car keys, which were eventually found by the car rental company back in France.  

We landed in Salt Lake at 1030pm and Christopher came back with us to Logan to borrow a car to drive back to Boise.  Justin and I had been excused from our drill (just not in time for us to commit to the last day in France), and I am so glad.  I walked in, set Vivian on the bed and went into the bathroom to start throwing up.  Somehow Christopher managed to make the four hour drive home and survive the subsequent drill weekend.  I slept until noon the next day, and felt much better.

This vacation was fun, amazing, and in many ways too good to be true. It was hard too, but I am so grateful to my in-laws for putting it all together, bringing us along, and grateful to my husband who picked me to get to be his addition to the family, because I love being a Goodale! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Goodales Take Paris - Versailles to Eiffel Tower

I woke up the next day at noon.  I was the last one up, but I honestly think that I would have slept all day if Justin hadn't finally allowed Vivian to come climb in bed with me to wake me up.  It was still some time after that before everyone was ready to leave the farmhouse and head into Paris.  Thankfully, that day had been planned as being a little slower anyway.  We elected to spend what was left of the day touring the Palace of Versailles.

It was a little rainy, but not too bad, and despite tales we had heard about waiting in impossibly long lines to get in, there were no such lines there that day.
Outside the main gates

I think this picture is hilarious. I asked Justin to stand there for a picture in the plaza at the same time that my father-in-law asked the family to line up for a family photo.  Hence Justin standing there with the family bunched up off to the side. 

This is the point in the tour where you're  glad that the people finally revolted.  It's just incredibly over the top. 
The security people had some issue with Vivian sitting on her grandpa's shoulders, but she wanted to touch everything, so I think everyone took a turn trying to wrangle her through the palace.
Following the palace, we drove to the construction site of the new Paris, France temple.  it was mostly concealed behind a fence line, which sustained only minor damage when my father-in-law attempted to maneuver the van into a minuscule parking space.  He did manage to get the van parked, and we all piled out of our vehicles for a glimpse over the fence of the smallish temple taking form behind it. 
I didn't realize that I was blocking Grandma out of this shot.  Sorry.
Following the temple we spent a fair amount of time looking for a suitable place for dinner.  We finally settled on a small restaurant where I would say that our hostess/waitress was visibly annoyed with the prospect of serving a large group of Americans.  Additionally, she had a patron or two who took no measures to disguise their irritation that Vivian and Caroline were with us.  On the flip side, Vivian was sitting across the room on Brianna's lap blowing kisses and batting her eyelashes at two middle-aged men who seemed nothing short of charmed.  Somewhere in there our waitress was won over too, and to an outside observer, the parting conversation with my mother-in-law looked like long-time friends wishing each other well "until next time."  We made our way back to the cars, inside a claustrophobia inducing parking structure, and by then it was already a late night.  It got later as Mark tried to use his phone to navigate the group out of Paris (since the freeways were all closed again), and the route selected certainly wouldn't be described as "direct."  It routed us through a series of streets that incited conversations about terrorist attacks and locked doors.  At last we arrived at an unbarricaded freeway ramp, and made it a few miles in a promising direction, before we had to exit for gas and a mass potty break.  We dispersed a group of truckers from the line in front of the lone uni-sex bathroom off to join Justin in the wood line. The rest of the drive was uneventful and at long-last we again arrived back at the farmhouse, later than planned, and exhausted.

The next morning we left fairly early, but made a stop for groceries.  Vivian and I remained in the car napping, but Justin returned to us with tales of an astounding and amazing cheese section.  (I hate morning sickness.)  From there we traveled to a spot where we could get a family photo in front of a mustard field. 
Us, in front of the mustard field.  These fields are beautiful, and they are everywhere in the countryside.
Our next stop was the Disneyland Paris parking lot, where we left our cars and rode a train into downtown Paris.  By then it was lunchtime and we stopped for food at a Pizza Hut, then continued on to a place where we could procure ourselves a museum pass.  The pass had a list of museums in Paris so long that it left me with the impression that I would need to become a Parisian to see everything there is to see and do in that city.

With museum passes in hand, we set off for the cathedral of Notre Dame.  Although Justin actually found the cathedral in Rouen to be more impressive, I preferred Notre Dame.  To a large extent I attribute that to having read the Hunchback of Notre Dame.  Actually seeing the edifice described in the book materialize in front of me was better than any movie.  Justin remarked how he found the loud "SHHH" blaring over the sound system followed by "quiet please" in ten different languages to be the loudest noise in there by far, and he has a point.  It was kind of distracting.
Outside Notre Dame, waiting in line the first time.  We had to wait in line twice since Steven and Justin took an untimely bathroom break and weren't back in time the first time through the line.

The pictures cannot do the stained glass in this church justice.
The afternoon had already been a gray drizzly one, and on our walk through the city we found ourselves caught in a deluge.  We took cover in a chocolate shop, before continuing on our way with a few more shopping bags in tow, to the Eiffel Tower.  

Originally Justin and I had talked about climbing the tower stairs to the middle platform, but pregnancy has a way of making that seem less fun.  Lucky for us, my mother-in-law had booked the family on a tour of the tower via the elevators.  We arrived at the tower earlier than expected and killed a little time strolling around the area.  This is when I first started realizing that for a city, Paris is quite picturesque.  Sure, it's still crowded and loud, because it is a city, but it is also a very clean city, with a certain style that is not without appeal.  Eventually the rain picked up and we decided to retreat back to the base of the tower, which did offer some minimal protection.

At that point Vivian hit a wall of sorts and made it known that the stroller wasn't working for her anymore.  I released her to the care of her father, who decided that jumping in puddles under the Eiffel Tower is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and she shouldn't be deprived.  This is probably why she adores him.  Brianna joined them, and took over "supervising" the activity when Justin had to go off in search of food to tide me over until dinner.  My soaking wet toddler was returned to me with a smile so big that her dimples seemed to have grown visibly deeper. 

She naturally found the flooded storm drain, which provided her with the deepest puddles possible.
Our tour to the top of the tower was interesting, despite the fact that our guide blatantly side-stepped Christopher's queries about the type of steel used in construction, and spoke with a voice that Justin described as "the most annoying voice ever."  Still, we enjoyed it.  I'm not at all big on heights, and was a little freaked out about going up to the top level in an elevator, but it just seemed ridiculous to go all the way to Paris and not go all the way to the top.  For the record, the tower sways in the wind.  I found the sway to be noticeable, but no one else seemed to feel it.  I probably would have had an anxiety attack and involuntarily strangled the life out of my husband if I had witnessed him dangling Vivian's head over the edge like this: 
Justin swears that he just held her up and she's the one that was trying to worm her way through the fencing.

These last two pictures were taken from the second platform, not the very top.
By the time we found ourselves back on solid ground, the sun was setting, everyone was wet, and Vivian was freezing.  We had dinner at a small corner restaurant nearby, where I decided that my best bet was to strip her from the waist down, put on a clean dry diaper, and wrap her in a dry blanket (the only item that had miraculously escaped the rain).  My in-laws thankfully purchased her a pair of tiny Eiffel Tower socks, and decided to push back the trip to the Arc de Triomphe until the next morning.  The trip home that night went much smoother, riding the train in and out of Paris.  Although, I do think that was the same evening that half of the group took their own sweet time getting on the metro, and left a few of us stranded on the platform as the doors closed in our faces.  In a group our size that's bound to happen at least once, and it did. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Goodale's Take Paris - Rouen to Normandy

The next morning, our first morning in France, we started off very slow, which was really to be expected considering the previous 48 hours of travel to get there.  (A good night's rest did wonders for the morning sickness, and for the rest of the trip it was annoying, but manageable.  However, some day I'd like to go back to France again so that I can fully appreciate French cuisine, particularly the cheeses.)  I'm not sure we left the farmhouse before eleven the next morning, but from my perspective we appeared to be a much happier group than the one that had dragged themselves through the front doors the previous night.

We drove through the French countryside, and into Paris.  My first impression of Paris wasn't really all that great.  It just looked like any other big, loud, crowded city, and that's never been my idea of a beautiful place.  That being said, how fair is it to judge a city from the freeway?  As it turns out, not very, but we'll get to that.

We drove through Paris and to a smallish city an hour or so outside called Rouen.  We were separated from the van carrying the rest of the family, but we had a navigation system in the car that was supposedly directing us to the Joan of Arc museum where we were to meet up with them.  What none of us had foreseen was the marathon that ran through the center of town closing all the main streets.  After some time of cruising around the city we happened upon the van, and together we were finally able to find a parking structure.  I am of the opinion that walking to our destination(s) ended up being rather ideal since we got more of a walking tour, well and an unintended driving tour, of the city as well.  I loved this city.  I loved it because it looked just as I felt that France is supposed to look.  The cobblestone streets, the corner cafes, the city center with a towering cathedral...all of it, right down to the street performer playing an accordion.
Regrouping outside of the parking structure.

Walking towards the center of town.

This appeared to me to be the main thoroughfare.

The cathedral.
We spent the better part of the day visiting the museum, which was interesting, (but not the sort of place where you take pictures) enjoying lunch at a corner cafe, touring the cathedral, and exploring the place on foot.  The weather was perfect, and really the day was pretty perfect right up until the end when the beggar on the street started shouting at my father-in-law in French for not giving him money.  I don't know what he said, but it didn't sound like he was complimenting anyone.  Other than that...perfect.

Once we left Rouen we drove for...a while?  I slept most of the way, so I don't actually know, but we arrived in the city of Caen.  Yet another city that I cannot pronounce.  The van got lost along the way and arrived at a much later time than our car.  We met up at our hotel for the evening, went to dinner, and then retired for the evening.  Everyone was starting to assume that look of exhaustion again.  Everyone but Vivian apparently who returned with us to the hotel and shouted with enthusiasm as she discovered that our bed was very bouncy, and made an ideal trampoline for someone her size.  We finally managed to calm her down and get her off to sleep.  I actually think that Justin and I may have drifted off before her.  However, she took about a three hour nap, and was up and ready to roll at 2 or 3 in the morning.  We were trying to talk her into laying back down, and really having no success with that, when somewhere through sick, tired haze I remember my older sister Sarah giving me a bottle of Melatonin and dispensing the advice to just keep it on hand, because you never know how she's going to do with time change.  As it turns out the time changes, and her internal clock does not.  We drugged our kid back to sleep.  It was a lifesaver, and there is no part of me that regrets that decision.

The next morning was an early morning.  The schedule was packed.  We ate breakfast and left for Omaha Beach.  This is a place I have always wanted to see.  The sheer size of this beach, and the unbelievable flatness of the terrain was sobering.
Omaha Beach
Justin and I remarked to each other that we would never want to crawl across that beach in full gear, not to mention freezing cold wet gear with machine gun fire ripping through the air.  I don't know if it left me with a fresh appreciation, or an added abundance of pity, for the men that endured that.  Probably a little bit of both.  After that we continued on to the US cemetery in Normandy.  We had a busy day ahead, so we were a bit pressed for time, and only had a couple of hours to devote to the museum and cemetery.  It was enough, but truthfully I could have spent the whole day wandering around that place.  They were so young.

There were a disturbing number of these.

The cemetery is situated just above the beach.  The setting is really kind of surreal.
Once we left the cemetery we drove out for a brief stop at Gold Beach, where the British landed.  Our stop there was pretty short.  Just long enough for all of Justin's brothers to rush down to the shore and risk their necks and ankles inching their way around a lookout point surrounded by jagged rocks, fortuitously without incident.

From Gold Beach we returned to Caen to visit a museum.  I hear it was great.  Vivian and I were sound asleep when we pulled into the parking lot.  I got out of the car, looked back at my sleeping baby, and decided to call it.  I was too tired, she looked tired, and I had to conserve some energy.  The family continued on without us.  When Vivian woke up again we went inside and met up with them for lunch at the cafeteria before we all continued on our way again, this time to Mont St. Michel.  

I had never heard of Mont St. Michel before my mother-in-law told me about it.  I'm glad she did though, because although it made for a very long day, it was absolutely worth it.  For anyone who reads this far and hadn't heard of it either, it's a monastery that was built on an island of sorts (it's an island during high tide, but surrounded by sand at low tide, although there are spots of quick sand, so walking out there is not advised) back in 709 AD.  So again this is one of these places that was like walking back in time, and I liked how it again looked the way that I thought that it should look.

Souvenir shopping on the way out.  I like that the street width hasn't been modified, even though it's definitely close quarters.
After that we drove back through the French countryside, which Justin has lamented over and over again that he wishes I hadn't been feeling sick and could have stayed awake to see more of, since it's allegedly beautiful.  We found a little creperie where we stopped for dinner and then started the long trek back to the farmhouse outside of Paris.  The van and the car were pretty much immediately separated.  This did not cause any concern until we arrived in Paris and suddenly we were routed off the freeway, and no detours were offered.  As it turns out, all of the freeways in Paris were under construction at night, and they just closed.  It creates a very frustrating scenario.  After some time Justin was finally able to navigate us far enough out of the city on city streets that we could get back on the freeway.  From there we drove back to the farmhouse where we sat in our car during a downpour, waiting for the van...and the keys to arrive, and speculating about when they would arrive.  To say that we felt annoyed when we discovered the next day that one of Justin's brothers was sitting in the back seat silently receiving text messages from that party about their ETA would be a bit of an understatement.  All the same, they did arrive, and we were able to again drag ourselves into the farmhouse and collapse in bed with instructions to not set any alarm clocks.